I’ll be honest. This is probably the most personal post I’ve written yet. It’s difficult to write these things as it involves revisiting the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. But I think it all needs to be said. I think there’s healing and hope in the fact that we’re not alone. Unexplained infertility is incredibly common but rarely talked about. And that’s exactly why we should talk about it.
“So when are you going to have kids?”
Like it’s a totally original idea.
Like I haven’t already thought of it myself.
Like I haven’t prayed to God a thousand times and wondered why my seemingly innocent, unselfish prayer would go unanswered.
The hardest thing I’ve ever done was waiting for a baby I’d never met.
Not knowing if he or she would ever come.
Not knowing if there was something wrong with me.
It’s not something people in their twenties are supposed to struggle with.
It’s rarely talked about.
People our age are more concerned about unplanned pregnancy than infertility.
Our expectation was that we’d get pregnant the first time we tried.
People in movies and TV shows get pregnant awfully easily.
So it took us by surprise.
It took us 12 long months of trying.
Of getting our hopes up only to be disappointed.
Of crying…so much crying.
Of putting aside my pride.
Of getting ultrasounds with no baby to look at.
Of swallowing my shame and buying fertility trackers at Walmart.
Of breaking down in front of my OB, who didn’t seem to understand my pain.
“Are your friends all pregnant?”
She didn’t get it. This wasn’t a mere desire to fit in.
“You’re young. Try to relax and enjoy your baby-less-ness. There’s nothing visibly wrong with you. Babies are sort of a miracle.”
I honestly don’t know why I wanted to have a baby so badly. Does anyone really know why they want those kinds of things? It was just a longing. A deep, uncontrollable desire. I felt like I was destined to be a mother and it was something I had always wanted.
“God, if I’m not meant to have a baby, please take away this desire!” I prayed. “It hurts too much. I don’t want to want this anymore.”
Things I learned from battling infertility for a year:
We take normal things for granted. Things like health and the ability to get pregnant right away are easily taken for granted. If you’ve never struggled with infertility, at least take a moment and be thankful. If you’re on the other side of it like I am, it’s important to look back with gratitude.
We’re not really in control. God’s timing is better than ours and sometimes his plan is different than ours. Yes, my doctor admitted that babies are a miracle. She can provide the care and she can deliver them, but a lot of it is out of our hands. This is both awesome and terrifying. I’m not a control freak, but I’m a planner. It’s hard to relinquish control, especially when I feel so strongly about what needs to happen. When things are completely uncontrollable, my only comfort is knowing that God controls the things I cannot. And on the bright side, I’m unable to mess up the things I can’t control. It’s all in his hands.
Bitterness isn’t worth it. For a while I battled deep resentment and longing every time I saw a pregnant woman. But that bitterness hurt me more than anyone else. I had to do my best to let go of it. I had to try my hardest to be genuinely happy for each and every person. I don’t know everyone’s story. It’s not my place to judge. I have no idea what each woman is secretly going through. All I see is a woman who’s pregnant when I’m not. She may be battling her own doubts, anxiety, and questions. She may be struggling to accept her pregnancy, just as I’m struggling to accept not being pregnant. There is no place to judge. This is no place to be divided. As women, we must do our best to love and support one another even when jealousy wants to divide us.
Getting pregnant doesn’t magically fix everything. I told myself when I was trying to get pregnant, “Everything will be perfect once I’m pregnant.” But it wasn’t. Pregnancy is hard. And once you’ve tried so hard for a child, there’s this unavoidable fear about the pregnancy. I trusted everything would be fine and we’d have a healthy child, but there’s so much at stake when you’ve tried so long. You know the heartbreak of a loss would completely shatter you. So it changes from “I just want to be pregnant” to “Everything will be perfect once the baby is born.” But that’s false hope too. Children are a huge life change. I was a little disillusioned with my first about how easy the adjustment would be. I had mild postpartum depression with both of my boys. The bottom line is, having kids doesn’t fix everything. After they’re born you will still struggle, just with other things. Your fears might change from infertility to SIDS, but you will still have fears if you don’t address them. I gained complete freedom from fear only when I surrendered the wellbeing of my children into God’s hands.
It’s important to exercise sensitivity. Getting pregnant is an emotional topic. It’s not a joking matter. There were times I wanted to burst into tears when someone asked me about having kids. There were times I flat-out lied and said we weren’t trying when we were. Let’s support one another and value each other as people regardless of our decisions to parent or not. Not everyone is able to have kids. Not everyone feels called to a traditional family model. It’s not our job as strangers, as friends, as relatives, to pressure anyone into parenthood. Unless someone opens up and tells you their story, never assume to know their reasons.
Looking back, I know God was in control when I wasn’t. The timing wasn’t my own, but it was still perfect.
It happened at just the right time.
It happened to draw me and my husband closer.
It happened so I could share my story.
I was in Guatemala when I found out.
I had a whole week to relish in my secret with anticipation and thankfulness.
I came home and told Josh in person.
It was one of those great moments.
I now have two beautiful, healthy boys. We got pregnant without any waiting the second time, so I now know the joy of a surprise baby too!
This is just my story.
I realize there’s other stories out there.
I realize some people have to battle infertility for much longer than 12 months.
I realize some people have to wait years and years, undergoing invasive and expensive treatments.
I realize for some people there isn’t a happy ending.
I realize the inability to have children comes in many forms, such as waiting to find a spouse, waiting to finish school, or waiting to adopt. These can be just as frustrating as infertility to someone who feels called to be a parent.
If any of this applies to you, my heart goes out to you and I hope you can find peace and acceptance. Feel free to share your stories with me. I’d love to listen.